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Wikia Search Engine to be Launched on January 7th 189

cagnol writes "The Washington Post reports that Jimmy Wales, the founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has announced the launch of a new open-source search engine, Wikia Search, on January 7th, 2008. The project will allow the community to help rank search results, in a model close to Wikipedia. However the company is a for-profit organization. This new search is supposed to challenge Google and Yahoo."
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Wikia Search Engine to be Launched on January 7th

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  • Easily Abused? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shade of Pyrrhus ( 992978 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:07PM (#21878582)
    So basically...they're asking for people to abuse the ranking system. To patrol something like this would require a company with resources like Google, and most likely the reason Google doesn't have such functionality. Just my two cents.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:08PM (#21878596)
    The idea is to challenge the established players by offering a search service that is more transparent to end users, meaning they can see how search results are arrived at. Wales has described Yahoo and Google as opaque services that don't explain how results are arrived at.

    Personally, I don't care how search engines rank the websites they return as long as what is returned is proper, relevant and useful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:21PM (#21878664)
    What? Why? It's called "competition" and it's healthy.
  • Re:Easily Abused? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shade of Pyrrhus ( 992978 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:22PM (#21878670)
    Having an open algorithm is good, as non-disclosure isn't security, but the issue is allowing people to rank searches and such. Having that public is asking for people to abuse the system, and as noted before, a lof of malicious parties could seemingly legitimately rank their sites (porn sites, etc) higher, leading to ranking battles by bots. Of course, the issue of vandalism occurs with Wikipedia, however when people are looking to make money off of it they'll likely be more persistent.
  • by pigiron ( 104729 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:24PM (#21878688) Homepage
    The non-profit is still going to have to make money. Crawling the web and returning results to queries is quite hardware and energy intensive.
  • first things first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paktu ( 1103861 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:42PM (#21878764)
    It would have been nice to see them fix Wikipedia's own search engine, which IMO is absolute garbage. I have a better chance of being linked to what I'm looking for by using a general search engine.
  • What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Evil Kerek ( 1196573 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @10:43PM (#21878770)
    This is simply his response to Google starting what amounts to competition for wikpedia. I'm sure google is having quite the laugh from it - one wonders how much of the donations for wikpedia are being used towards this thing.

    If you think wikpedia gets vandalized, wait until there's money involved. Wikpedia for all it's trappings, doesn't directly influence spam. But a search engine... IF, and this is a big IF, this thing becomes mainstream, having the code public will make it very easy for the bot herders to control it. The idea is simply flawed. Google is currently dealing with bot herders attempting to manipulate it's page ranks - while the idea of it being open source sounds great (well, ok it doesn't to me - I don't have the love affair with open source that most slashdotters do - I've never bought into the security myth that there's GOOD coders out there with so much free time on their hands that they are walking OTHER peoples code. I don't like doing that when I'm PAID to do it. Not too mention there just aren't that many good coders out there....but I digress) it's simply going to work right into the hands of the malware crowd - especially now that it's more organized crime than it is vandalism.

  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <slashdot AT krwtech DOT com> on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:02PM (#21878870) Journal
    Search for Kobar Towers and you get 0 relevant articles. Search for Khobar Towers and you get 62 articles. Yeah, the first is a misspelling, but it's 1 letter off, nothing difficult for a spell checker to check against a dictionary of existing articles. What use is a search engine if it is so strict that I have to enter the terms exactly to get an article when I could just do that in the URL?

    As long as I need to use google to search Wikipedia, I don't see Wikipedia creating a google killer.
  • Re:Easily Abused? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) <nacturation.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:17PM (#21878966) Journal

    So basically...they're asking for people to abuse the ranking system. To patrol something like this would require a company with resources like Google, and most likely the reason Google doesn't have such functionality. Just my two cents.
    And when you think about it, Google's pagerank algorithm already returns search results based on what the community thinks. This new venture is simply a means to take other peoples' sweat equity and turn it into profit for good old Jimmy while giving the people who did all the work little more than warm fuzzies inside, if that.
  • by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:47PM (#21879102) Journal
    Shouldn't they work on getting wikipedia's search to work half way decently before they try to compete with Google?

    Don't get me wrong, I like wikipedia, but their search on the site is next to worthless.
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:59PM (#21879168)
    Unfortunately for you your track record disagrees with your promises. You and your website have a history of abuse and bias that rivals that of any on the Internet. Your management incompetence of Wikipedia is so bad that you have dedicated websites documenting it. From secret mailing lists to the junior high style politics that rule your sham open organization, you are incompetent.

    The thought that Jimmy Wales, cofounder of Wikipedia could have an open site without abuse is laughable. You operate under the sham of an open community, yet exclude those outside a very narrow political agenda. Your a fraud, using open source principals as a smokescreen that presents your personal world-view set as fact to the world. I don't buy what your selling, and I'm calling your bluff. The sad thing is that this will probably make you a fair amount of money if more people don't start to see through you.

    But then the wonderful thing about leading revisionist history is you can substitute your own revisions for reality....

  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:25AM (#21879324)
    Hey Jimmy: quit goofing around on Slashdot and get to straightening out the Wikipedia "administration" system. Check out your current fundraising campaign - that little green guy is moving REALLY slowly, and things like faked credentials for editors and the "notability purge" aren't helping.

    The Rest of the Internet
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:25AM (#21879326) Homepage

    Wikia has been something of a dud. What Wikia really does is monetize fancruft. Their big wikis are for Star [Trek|Wars|Gate|Craft], Everquest, Marvel comics, Yu-Gi-Oh, and similar subjects. They're the resting place for fan articles thrown out of Wikipedia. [wikia.com]

    Wikia's search engine, based on the user demographic they have now, is going to have great coverage of furry fan fiction. [wikia.com]

    There's already a good manually-updated search engine. It's called Open Directory [dmoz.org]. It's quite useful as a data source for answering the question "what is this web site about"? It tends to run months behind changes to the web, since it's manually updated. While not many people query DMOZ manually, it's used by Yahoo, Google, etc. to get some basic information about a web site.

    As an example of how great Wikia search is going to be, Wales suggested searching for "Tampa hotels". [techcrunch.com] The major search engines return too many bottom-feeder reseller and directory sites for searches like that. As I point out occasionally, we've already solved that problem over at SiteTruth [sitetruth.com], which looks for business legitimacy. Type in "Tampa hotels" there and watch it push the marginal sites to the bottom of the search results. We have that one handled.

    Wikipedia works because people are willing to do substantial work for free for a non-profit organization. That doesn't work for a commercial business. You can get people to write about themselves (Myspace, Facebook, etc.) but beyond that, "crowdsourcing" doesn't go very far.

  • Re:Easily Abused? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:57AM (#21879488)
    Is there an intersection between the people who decide what goes on the whitelist, and what is "notable" for inclusion in Wikipedia?

    I thought so. Your solution is already broken.
  • Re:Easily Abused? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j@wPLANCKw.com minus physicist> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:06AM (#21879518) Homepage
    Abuse potential is the first entry on they whiteboard when it comes to designing a new internet site these days. It's a pity, but that's the way it is.

    I've been running a (small, nothing compared to what you're doing) community powered search engine for a while now (little less than one year), it's been a neat little project and I've learned a lot.

    I think the combined power of having your name and wikipedia as a launchpad and quite probably the capital to see this through may give you a chance worth taking. That said I wished that you'd go back to fixing what's still broken in wikipedia and that google would fix their search, I think you'd both be in better shape then. Wikipedia gives me a strong feeling the inmates have taken over the asylum and google has some serious issues (that your effort will probably not be able to address).

    best regards, & best of luck,

      Jacques Mattheij
  • by sethawoolley ( 1005201 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:19AM (#21879570) Homepage

    From the RIAA threads we learn people don't want to pay as endusers for their content.
    Great post, except this part doesn't make any sense. I pay as an end user for content all the time, and not just for high-end data: Magazine subscriptions, membership in various societies (and their publications), newspapers, my ISP, government funding (I pay through taxes), direct donations to non-profits, contributions to wikipedia and other open content systems directly. While some of them are for high-end data, a lot of it is not.

    Is content going to ever be totally free? It will be if people understand the inherent rewards of an open society. Information's negligible cost of duplication is the revolutionary model is the thing that is shattering the old models (c.f. http://homes.eff.org/~barlow/EconomyOfIdeas.html [eff.org]). Wikipedia is already doing that. As much as I'm a critic of Jimmy Wales, citizendium, etc. (with their NPOV lunacy), the system he's helped build is saving people's lives and improving quality of life in ways the old world just doesn't understand yet.

    Personally, I'm hopeful that as long as we still have the Right to Read (c.f. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]), we're on the path to freedom and salvation. A corporation who makes up a new "model" to take advantage of content producers isn't going to take hold anymore. There's just not a point anymore. The price of content is already quite low for common knowledge. Even if the arbiters of knowledge try to keep it from common knowledge, we can paraphrase it. The greatest risk to real productive use of our knowledge still remains Patents. Information may finally be free, but the freedom to tinker is not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @02:04AM (#21879798)
    Come to your wikipedia page?

    you mean the one that you have been documented [wikipedia.org] (and here [wikitruth.info]) not only editing, but wiping clean the edit history on, trying to bury your tracks?

    The game you're playing is dirty and how dare you come here unwilling to meet us on equal ground.
  • Re:What a joke... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ToiletDuck ( 57205 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @02:10AM (#21879816)

    Wikia is a completely separate organization.
    Why aren't links to Wikia nofollowed like every other external link posted on Wikipedia, then?

    It seems odd to me that a completely separate organization would get this very special treatment. This ensures Wikia gets higher search engine rankings, and by extension more exposure and ad revenue.

    What is your explanation for this?
  • by SpaceToast ( 974230 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:57PM (#21884362) Homepage Journal

    Funny to read this today, after I spent a couple of hours yesterday searching Google for something that doesn't exist -- a Plucker [plkr.org] type app for the iPod Classic. What struck me was just how badly Google performed. Any search containing the word "iPod" seems to return pages upon pages of blog entries about the (long since released) iPhone. What one tends to find with a Google search are a lot of loud, content-light blog entries, popping with ads, with short dashed-off articles broken across several pages. "Relevance" in Google seems to have the most to do with activity -- posts per day per site, repeated introductory blurbs on every page, modestly-trafficed forums devoid of meaningful discussion. Google does a pretty decent job with common searches, reasonably well with obscure searches, but very badly with the rest -- the middle of the long tail.

    Google rose to prominence by being the best of a pretty weak set of players. It's still only the least bad solution, and there are a lot of things it does poorly. In classic AltaVista, you could type a few words of a song in quotes and find the title and lyrics. Type a long quoted string into Google, and you're likely to come up with nothing.

    If Wikia manages to best Google in any type of search I'll applaud it. Search choices beyond Google and Trying to Be Google would be most welcome.

  • by cavebison ( 1107959 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @02:44AM (#21891686)
    If we're talking about publicly-ranked search results, the results may expose more than we're comfortable with.

    Wikipedia content is either right or wrong. It's not meant to be subjective, hence it can be patrolled and corrected. Now they want to apply it to subjective content; I don't see that making sense, albeit at first glance. User A is a technocrat who loves Monty Python. Hardly an isolated case. Use B is a 15yr old who likes whatever he/she likes this week. There's no "patrolling" this, except to address systematic abuse.

    The concept is fine for slashdot, or any "closed" system, where the users generally share a common set of expectations. At /., I find all +5 content to be generally insightful, interesting, funny, etc. At least it seems so to me. Either I'm new here, or we've all seen Life of Brian. Whether that's utopia or not is another question altogether.

    Expand this out to the general internet user, and the result will, of course, reflect the general focus of human society. That will be interesting, to say the least, though I'll bet $5 that anything entertainment- and religion-based will always be at the top of the results. Is that what people want? Ipso facto perhaps, but sure as hell not I.

    Let's keep in mind that (no offence to anyone specific) ~80% of Americans believe in God, less than 50% subscribe to Darwin, ~30% believe in "UFOs, witches and astrology" (if you can believe this poll [physorg.com] that is). Of course, smart people believe weird things [sciam.com] too.

    Add to this, that 81% [dogeatdogfilms.com] of those who have seen two or more "Police Academy" movies believe that O.J. is innocent, and you have a recipe for disaster.
  • by jddunlap ( 1083369 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:59AM (#21895276)
    It's easier to find things on Wikipedia with Google than it is with the Wikipedia search... Good luck, Jimmy Wales. You're going to need it.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein